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The Jesus Project: Anointing’s Purpose

TJP Do-not-forsake-the-call

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.” –Isaiah 61:1, ESV

This passage hinges on the anointing of God. The Spirit is upon Jesus, why?

“…because the Lord has anointed Me…”

Everything that comes out of the Spirit’s presence and everything that comes in this passage stems from the core: God anoints. So if this anointing brings about the Messiah, we would be wise to figure out what anointing is. Let’s pause here for a spell. We need to understand the centrality of God’s anointing before we study who receives anointing and the subsequent works emerging from it.

The Hebrew word for anoint used in our Isaiah passage is “mashach” (pronounced maw-shakjh’), which our study buddy James Strong tells us this word is most commonly used to indicate “the sense of a special setting apart for an office or function.”

If God is doing the anointing, and it is for a special setting apart, then what purposes does God want to accomplish through anointing? Cross-referencing the word in scripture brings about several themes. The purposes set forth are four, which we will explore individually: to make an instrument holy, to sanctify that which is anointed, to consecrate, that the anointed might ministry to God.

Making an instrument holy

In Exodus, God instructs the people to mashach both the tabernacle and the altar. These two critical pieces of Israel’s religious life required anointing. They needed to be holy in order that they may be of service to God. Anointing wasn’t an option; God commanded that it happen prior to the instruments being put into use.

The process of making the instruments of worship holy not only were a physical act. The process of anointing reminded the Israelites the holiness is required when approaching the God of the universe. And as the law was designed to do, the process of making something holy reminds the people that they, themselves, are wholly unholy. In reflecting on the glory of God, the people remember the uncleanness of their own hearts and minds.

But God in His mercy didn’t leave the people in their uncleanness. The purpose of the anointing was to make a way to God. If the instruments of worship were anointed and made holy, the people could come to God. It represented one step in the open door to the throne room of God.

Sanctifying the anointed

Throughout scripture, anointing partners closely with the act of sanctification. The terms are not used interchangeably, so be careful of that. But where anointing occurs, sanctification hovers nearby. The word, qadash (pronounced kaw-dash’) is used to identify something or someone as being set apart for God’s work. In holiness, the anointed is prepared for the work of God. Sanctification sets the anointed apart for use in work specifically identified as belonging to God.

Sanctification his not only set apart, it is set apart for a specific purpose. I can say my sanctification means I can choose my ministry. But this is not indicated in scripture. I can make excuses for the forty-two ways something serves God and His kingdom, but I can still be out of God’s will. He sanctifies us, not that we choose our work, but that we choose the work He has set aside for us.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'” –Acts 13:2, ESV

The Spirit Who spoke to the church of Antioch with a specific call for Barnabas and Saul is the same Spirit working in believers now. You were created a particular way. And the work of God set out for you is for you to do. As a sanctified believer, be not content with settling for anything less than exactly that which God set apart for specifically you.

Consecrating the anointed

In partnership with anointing, consecration bears a remarkable image. The two Hebrew words used are male (pronounced maw-lay’) and yad (pronounced yawd). Each means to fill, even to overflowing. Yad can also indicate overcoming power. Imagine: the anointing makes one holy that they may approach God, sanctification sets them apart for specific work from God, and the consecration fills the person to overflowing in power to carry out the call of God.

I will admit, I used to think sanctification and consecration were basically the same thing. Some word scholars boil down the definitions of consecration to holiness. But digging deeper into the actual definitions rather than someone else’s paraphrase revealed a layer upon layer upon layer of preparation the believer receives as a result of believing that God is Who He says He is, that Jesus came to die a sinless death in our sinful place, and that Jesus rose from the grave to conquer death once for all that we may come to God. That’s the gospel. This layered verse kicking off Isaiah 61 gives us a sneak peek into what all that means.

Do not forsake the call of God on your life. For He gave much, He has prepared you, and He will fill you to overflowing and beyond to carry out the work He set before you. By the power of His Spirit, you are His, and you are ready. But wait, there’s more.

That the anointed may minister to God

Let’s review: anointing involves being made holy, being set apart for God’s specific work by sanctification, and that we are filled to overflowing in being consecrated as His. All this momentum, but where should it all go? The fourth theme gives us that answer.

The purpose of anointing is to set one apart for service to the Lord. That is it. Not service to people, not feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. Yes, those things may come. But the primary and first purpose of anointing is ministering to God. Here’s a taste of how scripture recounts God’s own words to build primacy in purpose of anointing:

“anoint…that they may minister unto Me…” –Exodus 28:41, ESV

“anoint…that they may minister unto Me…” –Exodus 30:30, ESV

“anoint them…that they may minister unto Me…” –Exodus 40:15, ESV

Your first ministry is not to your family, friends, or even the “ministry” you built to carry out the commands of Christ. Your first and primary responsibility in the church of God is to minister to God. Period. If you are balking at the notion that the crying, precious infant laying in your lap is not your primary purpose, remember Jesus’ words on the subject:

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” –Matthew 10:37, ESV

If you need to, re-set your ministry priorities now. Right now. I stayed in a ministry longer than God wanted me there. This was not a “impression” or a hind-sight understanding. I knew He wanted me to leave. But I made up excuse after excuse as to why I should stay. Months later, a man from that ministry began stalking me. I cannot call it cause and effect; but I can say that had I left when God urged, I would not have been in a position in the ministry where someone with those kinds of tendencies would have noticed me, and I may have saved myself over a year of fear and stress.

The ministry is not the point. God is. You’ve been chosen to minister to Him. And He will determine the appropriate out-flowing of that ministry.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33, ESV

To understand your horizontal ministry, you must minister first to God. And before all of that, you must be anointed. For the one who ministers to God must be holy. Praise Him we live on this side of the Cross! Jesus made the way that we could come to the Father in our totally unworthy state and be made holy before Him, that we would be sanctified and consecrated, all for the purpose of serving the One Who saved us from the due penalty for our sin.

Anointing is no small thing. W.E. Vine shares this conclusion about anointing:

“Anointing was a symbol of the qualification divinely imparted in the consecration of persons for the discharge of their office, whether prophets, priests, or kings.”

What’s the point? Jesus.

That headline sounds like a cliche Sunday School answer, but hang with me. Do you see? Our passage in Isaiah is describing Jesus. And it is describing the very process you and I experience when we come to Him. But there is one very cool thing: we aren’t responsible for any of it. We don’t make ourselves holy. We don’t sanctify ourselves for God’s work. And we certainly can’t fill ourselves to overflowing power in consecration. We can do none of that.

Jesus can. And He already did.

God has a purpose for your life–an “office” that you are to fulfill in the body of Christ. But to know that office, you must first come to God through Jesus to become a member of his people. Anointed by the blood of Jesus, made holy, sanctified, and consecrated in His perfection, you can approach God to minister to Him. And He will show you your appointed office. Set your ministry priorities straight, and He will bring more fulfillment, more understanding, and more rich spiritual blessings that you can possibly imagine.

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For all posts related to The Jesus Project, click here.
Interested in the reference texts used? Click here for the references page.

On Holy Moments…

blog--2014-02--holy moments

the hush comes,
after obedience,
after reading an article linked in twitter,
after copy/pasting song lyrics to a song i don’t know:
“son stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.”

a holy moment.
when faith fans the flame of hope,
when the whisper from heaven says,
“wait and see what I will do with this obedience.”

a task given weeks ago,
waiting for a particular day.
He even sped up the timeline,
undeniably from Him.

the task completed,
the prayer said.
and a peace for which I have sought
remains steady.

and faith fans the flame of hope.
and hope does not disappoint.

What is He asking you to do?
Maybe, just maybe, the holy moment will come after the obedience.

the hush of heaven, prior to exploding in worship of the Lamb that was slain.
a holy moment, a hush when loving God
with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength
carry you through
where once waves of upheaval would have been,
only peace amid the waters.

A heavenly voice whispers, “You did it. You were strong in your weakness. You did it.”

A holy moment extends…there are dishes to be done.

On Doing the Thing and Getting on with It…

blog--2014-02--on holinessIf you want to see my roll my eyes (on the inside, of course) quicker than anything else, there is one phrase that gets me beyond all others: “But I worked really hard!”

Usually following a failing measure or an incomplete project or a missed deadline, “but I worked really hard” seems to be the new excuse. I ask: When did this become the measure of success? When did this ambiguous measure justify unsuccessful results?

I heard it in graduate school. How grades should be given based on how hard someone worked, not on their results. I challenged the notion, saying that if a math genius spends 2 minutes on a problem to answer it correctly and an orator spends 200 minutes on a problem but gets it wrong, should they both get the same grade? How does one quantify “hard enough”? Why should the gifted be penalized for not having to try as hard? The justifications continued.

So I asked a different question: do you want a civil engineer to get a degree based on how hard they worked or based on whether they got the right answers or not? On which bridge do you want to drive? Do you want a surgeon who tried really hard? Or one who actually knows how to remove your appendix without killing you?

Though I vehemently argue against it, I find myself using the same excuses personally. I thought a lot about doing that thing, I just haven’t actually done it. But can I get credit for the thinking?

The truth is, no. God declares, “be holy, as I am holy”. Not “try really hard”, or “give it a shot” “Be holy.” Period.

What about grace, compassion, and mercy? He gives those too. Because we cannot be holy. But we can be fully committed to Him. Fully committed to “be” + grace, mercy, and compassion = holiness in God’s eyes. Where your commitment falters, remember He calls you to “be holy.” Jesus does not short-change holiness. He fills in the gaps we cannot possibly bridge. But those steps we can do and choose not to do are ours to conquer. Those are the steps when thinking about it, or trying really hard to maybe try and step when He cleared the path already just doesn’t cut it.

Do the thing. And get on with it.

Chronological Bible: September 22, Waiting for the rise…

Read:

  • Nehemiah 6:15-7:73a

 “…until a priest with Urim and Thummim should arise.” –Nehemiah 7:65, ESV

The people were coming back into a city not yet rebuilt. Some who claimed to be Israelites could not be proven by genealogy to be so. Without turning them away, the governor commanded that they were not to take of the most holy food until a priest could affirm them. The highlighted portion of verse above was the kicker: they didn’t yet have a priest.

The governor and these people both showed patience and a trust that God would raise up a priest. The governor did not make a decision one way or the other. He chose instead to protect holiness and to wait until the man God chose was brought forth.

Are we willing to wait for God to bring someone forth into a position? Or more aptly, do we trust that God will actually bring someone up? Do we trust that He knows the importance of the decisions that need to be made? Do we trust that His timing will be the best timing of four best good?

Are you willing to wait for God to raise up His choice?

Chronological Bible: August 17, Jesus came common to unveil the holy…

Read:

  • Ezekiel 43:1-48:35

“They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.” –Ezekiel 44:25, ESV

Holy versus common. God’s desire is that all will be holy, which can only be achieved through accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as blood atonement for our sins. Our sins, no matter how we try to justify them, separate us from God. The cool thing about God is this, when we were still sinners, He came to us.

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” –Romans 5:8-11, ESV

The holy of holies in the temple was reserved for priests. No other could enter without dying. For years Christianity has taught that only those made holy can come to the holy of holies, the very throne of God. And though this may be technically true, we missed out on the very gospel that sets us free. Romans shows us that God came to us while we were still sinning, before we knew Christ. Yes, the most intimate relationships with Him can only come after salvation through accepting Jesus as Lord. But we can sometimes think we have to clean up the mess before we get there.

You cannot clean up your mess. You can try to live a better life, try to be more kind, whatever it is. But you will never achieve holiness. And God knew this. So He came. Jesus came to be what was common that we might become what is holy. He is not afraid of your sin, your mess, or your complete unholiness. While we were enemies to Him, He came.

You don’t have to make your life holy before you come. In fact, you would never come if that were your approach. For nothing we do apart from the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit can possibly make us holy.

Put aside your pride. Put aside your fear. And just come. Enemy status or not, it is HIs holiness that will fill you, His holiness that will make your common completely uncommon.